Fatah official: Arafat hinted for us to launch Second Intifada after Camp David

Abd Elah al-Atira also says late Palestinian leader encouraged deadly riots following opening of Western Wall tunnels in 1996

Ehud Barak, left, with Bill Clinton and Yasser Arafat (photo credit: Sharon Farmer)
Ehud Barak, left, with Bill Clinton and Yasser Arafat (photo credit: Sharon Farmer)

A Fatah party official said Yasser Arafat hinted for Palestinians to launch the Second Intifada following the failure of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in 2000 at Camp David.

“Yasser Arafat, may he rest in peace, signed the Oslo Accords and came here [to the Palestinian territories],” Abd Elah al-Atira said in an interview with Palestine TV earlier this month. “When he went to Camp David and saw that Jerusalem, or part of it, was not part of the deal, he came back and hinted to us to start the Second Intifada.”

“Fatah’s thermometer is ready to move in any direction,” he added, according to a translation of his remarks from the Middle East Media Research Institute.

Atira, a member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, also said Arafat was behind deadly rioting that broke out after Israel opened the Western Wall tunnels to the public in 1996.

“When he saw [the opening of] the Western Wall tunnel, he was the one who told the people to take to the streets and fight, and so we waged an Intifada,” he said.

The comments give further credence to the claim that the Second Intifada — which began in September 2000 following a controversial visit by then-opposition leader Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount — was less a spontaneous Palestinian uprising than a premeditated top-down effort by Arafat to inflame the street.

Many Israeli officials have argued that Arafat instigated the Second Intifada, in part to deflect blame for his refusal to progress toward a full peace agreement in the Camp David negotiations.

A senior Hamas member said in 2014 that Arafat gave the terror group arms following the breakdown of the Camp David talks in July 2000, which was followed by a wave of attacks and suicide bombings.

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